ASU Wrestling Plays Host to Sun Devil Duals Monday Afternoon

Jan. 8, 2005

TEMPE, Ariz. - The Arizona State University wrestling team (1-3-1, 0-0-0 Pac-10) returns to home action this week with five duals slated for Wells Fargo Arena. Monday night will see ASU play host to the Sun Devil Duals with six total duals on the schedule, three of which ASU will compete. Starting at 4 p.m., the Sun Devils will meet Utah Valley State College while Embry-Riddle faces Cal State Bakersfield. From there, ASU will face ERAU as CSUB and UVSC meet at 5:30 p.m. with the final session of the night, starting a 7 p.m., will pit ASU against conference foe CSUB while ERAU and UVSC also face one another.

Following the three duals Monday night, the Sun Devils will return to the home mats for a 7 p.m. dual Wednesday night as No. 10 Oklahoma pays a visit. From there, ASU will close out the home stand with a 2 p.m. Pac-10 battle as Cal State Fullerton comes to Tempe Sunday afternoon.

In their last dual action, the Sun Devils competed in a pair of duals in Fresno, Calif., and returned home with their first victory of the season, as well as a rare tie.
In the first dual of the day, ASU took on Menlo College and scored a 35-6 decision for its first win of the year. In all, Sun Devil wrestlers won nine of 10 bouts, forfeiting at 197 for the only points on the MC side of the board.
In the nightcap, the No. 18 Sun Devils battled the host Bulldogs of Fresno State and walked away with a tie. After FSU took an 18-6 lead, ASU needed wins in the final three bouts of the day and got just that. After a C.B. Dollaway victory by fall at 184 pushed the score to 18-12, No. 6 Ryan Bader downed No. 7 Marcio Botelho at 197 to bring the score to 18-15. In the last bout of the night, No. 3 Cain Velasquez defeated No. 14 Clint Walbeck at heavyweight to bring the final score to 18-18.
In recent years, all dual meet ties were broken by criteria. This season, however, the NCAA removed the tiebreaker system (except for in dual meet tournaments), thus allowing for the tie.

The tie with Fresno State on Jan. 4 was the first tied finish for the Sun Devils since ASU and Cal State Bakersfield ended their Jan. 31, 1999, dual in Tempe knotted at 18 apiece. The last time ASU was involved in a tied dual was last year at the Virginia Duals when Purdue won on criteria in a 20-20 in the consolation semifinals of the national event.

Here are the wrestlers that Head Coach Thom Ortiz has on his starting list for Monday's trio of duals:
125 - Jeremy Mendoza or Alex Contreras
133 - Curtis Ray, John Espinoza or Adam Hickey
141 - Chris Frieje
149 - Patrick Williams or Mark LaBeau
157 - Brian Stith
165 - Patrick Pitsch
174 - Rick Renzi
184 - C.B. Dollaway
197 - Ryan Bader
285 - Cain Velasquez or Clifford Starks

After opening the dual season with three losses to the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 ranked foes in the nation at 184 pounds, C.B. Dollaway, currently ranked No. 8 with a 14-5 record, picked up his first dual wins of the season in convincing fashion. In the first bout of the day in Fresno, Dollaway needed just 2:22 to pin his opponent before moving on to his final bout of the night were he pinned his foe in 2:01.

Cal Poly, hosts of the 2005 Pac-10 Wrestling Championships, released updated team and individual Pac-10 rankings on Dec. 1 with the Sun Devils climbing in both. On the team front, ASU moved up from No. 6 to No. 1 based on the improvements seen in the individual polls.
Half of the ranked individuals from ASU have received top billing as Patrick Williams (149), C.B. Dollaway (184), Ryan Bader (197) and Cain Velasquez (Hwt.) each lead their respective weight classes. The remaining four Sun Devils include No. 3 Jeremy Mendoza (125), No. 3 Brian Stith (157), No. 6 Patrick Pitsch (165) and No. 6 Rick Renzi (174).

Five bouts in the ASU-Cal State Bakersfield dual Monday night look to be battles of Top 6 wrestlers in the latest Pac-10 individual rankings. No. 4 Jeremy Mendoza and No. 3 Efren Ceballos and are set to meet at 125 with the other match-ups being: No. 2 Patrick Williams vs. No. 5 Anthony Baza (at 149); No. 2 Brian Stith vs. No. 4 Brian Busby (at 157); No. 5 Patrick Pitsch vs. No. 2 Christian Arellano (at 165) and No. 1 Cain Velasquez vs. No. 5 Eric Parker.

The latest USA Today/NWCA Coaches Poll was released Jan. 4 with the Sun Devils claiming the 18th position on the poll. None of three foes ASU will face Monday are ranked in the same poll, although Embry-Riddle is ranked in the Top 10 of the latest NAIA national polls.

The 2004-05 season got underway with a quartet of Sun Devils winning titles at the Fullerton Open. Jeremy Mendoza (125), Patrick Williams (149), C.B. Dollaway (184) and Cain Velasquez (Hwt.) each secure titles in the event while four others placed in the Top 4, including second-place finishes from Patrick Pitsch (165) and Ryan Bader (197)

A pair of Sun Devils scored upset victories in the second dual of the season with the two wins coming in back-to-back bouts at Iowa State. Heavyweight Cain Velasquez got the ball rolling as the eighth-ranked Sun Devil big man scored a 4-1 decision over Iowa State's fifth-ranked Scott Coleman. One bout later, unranked Jeremy Mendoza scored an 11-5 decision over previously undefeated and 13th-ranked Grant Nakamura of ISU. Even with the individual wins, the Sun Devils were unable to overcome the No. 3 team in the nation, falling 22-16.

C.B. Dollaway and Ryan Bader, competing at 184 and 197, respectively, each finished second in the Las Vegas Invitational over the weekend to lead the Sun Devils to a fourth-place finish. Dollaway, ranked ninth nationally, defeated the No. 19, No. 11 and No. 8-ranked wrestlers in the nation before falling in the finals to No. 5 Travis Pascoe of Nebraska, 6-4.
Bader, who finished second in the event for the second year in a row and is currently ranked seventh in the nation, met three nationally ranked foes, going 2-1 with his lone loss being a 4-1 decision to No. 2 Chris Skretkowicz of Hofstra in the final.

On September 3, 2004, former Sun Devil All-American Steve Blackford lost his life in a tragic automobile accident. A beloved son, brother, nephew and friend, Blackford will be sorely missed by all that were fortunate enough to have met him and especially those who hold a special place in their hearts for him.

The wrestling program will soon have a new training facility on campus to use as a joint effort between the Sunkist Kids and ASU. Ground was broken in early August with the 9,600 square foot building scheduled for completion later this month. With 7,200 square feet of usable mat space, the facility will hold three full-size competition mats (40x40) and afford a much larger practice area for the Sun Devils, and Sunkist Kids, to utilize.

A consensus Top 4 pick in this season's preseason individual rankings, Ryan Bader returns for his junior season with hopes of not only adding his third Pac-10 championship title at 197 pounds, but also adding his second All-America honors following a fourth-place finish at the national meet a year ago. Bader has compiled a career record of 57-26 following a stellar 33-8 mark last year on his way to earning a spot among the nation's elite wrestlers and winning tournament titles at the Missouri Open, Reno Tournament of Champions and the Pac-10 Championships.

Ryan Bader's All-America honor attained last year may have been his first, but it is certainly not the first for the program. Bader's accolade was the 100th award in the history of the program and also continued a streak of 30 years in a row that the Sun Devil program has produced at least one All-American wrestler.

All four members of the Arizona State coaching staff obtained their degrees from ASU while also competing for the Sun Devils during their careers in Tempe. Head Coach Thom Ortiz graduated in 1990 and was a member of the 1988 national championship team. Aaron Simpson was a two-time All-American prior to earning his degree in 1996 and coaching the team for the past seven seasons. Eric Larkin and Kellan Fluckiger both completed their degree work in 2003 following successful campaigns with the maroon and gold. Larkin was the 2003 NCAA champion at 149 and a four-time All-American and conference champion while Fluckiger was an All-American in his senior season while taking home two conference gold medals.

Thom Ortiz enters his fourth year at the helm of the Sun Devil wrestling program with a 32-20 record as the head coach. Ortiz led the Sun Devils to the 2003 Pac-10 Championship title on the strength of six individual champions and seven total finalists while also guiding current assistant coach Eric Larkin to the NCAA title at 149 pounds in his senior campaign. A graduate of ASU in 1990, Ortiz was a two-time All-American and was a member of the 1988 NCAA Championship Sun Devil team. A three-time Pac-10 champion, Ortiz also was a part of three conference team championships in his time with ASU.

Real Pro Wrestling (RPW) was created in 2002 and held its first show taping Oct. 8-9 in Los Angeles. Eric Larkin, Aaron Simpson, Kellan Fluckiger and Danny Felix all competed for the shows that will begin airing on PAX TV March 31. Teams, results and other information will be released as part of the one-hour shows that will air for 14 weeks in a row with the 15th showing being a two-hour special that features all seven of the championship bouts that pit Olympic caliber freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestlers against one another (

Wells Fargo Arena, located adjacent to Sun Devil Stadium, is the home of several of Arizona State's athletic teams, including wrestling, basketball, gymnastics and volleyball. The building has a capacity of 14,198 and has been the host of numerous conference and national events, most recently the 2004 Pac-10 Wrestling Championships. In 2005, the NCAA Sweet 16 and Elite Eight for women's basketball will be contested on Ned Wulk Court with the winner heading to the final four.

Arizona State returns to action Wednesday night with a 7 p.m. showdown against No. 10 Oklahoma inside Wells Fargo Arena. The Sun Devils also will be home Sunday at 2 p.m. as they play host to conference foe Cal State Fullerton.

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